In this chapter, we analyze the interactions between local governments and citizens’ initiatives. In the Netherlands, local governments take up the role of civic enabler based on a modest approach that leaves citizens room to invent and design initiatives on what they deem to be public issues by facilitating and activating their efforts. We focus on how a proactive form of this approach toward citizens’ initiatives in deprived neighborhoods affects citizen–government relations. Our research is based on a case study in the city of Amsterdam. We find that particularly more women and migrants took up a wide variety of initiatives, which suggests that the neighborhood approach is more inclusive than deliberative approaches. We also find that initiators developed a positive attitude toward public institutions that enable them and that they started to see frontline workers as collaborators in their initiatives with whom they could have personal and authentic interactions, as opposed to the cool bureaucratic response from government officials that they were used to. To close the chapter, we discuss some risks of the proactive enabling approach, we compare our findings to problems that citizens’ initiatives often face during their interactions with local institutional actors in the Netherlands found in other literature, and we briefly discuss possible implications of practicing a modest enabling approach for developments in governance.
We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their fruitful comments and Margaret Stout for her continuous encouragement and support.
Verhoeven, I. and Tonkens, E. (2018), "Joining the Citizens: Forging New Collaborations Between Government and Citizens in Deprived Neighborhoods", From Austerity to Abundance? (Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management, Vol. 6), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 161-179. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2045-794420180000006008Download as .RIS
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